Earth’s Greatest Moments of 2016 from Astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield

On New Year’s eve, Canadian Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield shared a list of all the great things that happened in 2016, the positives that were drowned out by the constant noise of all the negative.

Chris Hadfield
Chris Hadfield

Looking over the list, it eases one’s soul to know of how much progress we are still making in the day to day lives of people around the world. Despite all the negative, human kind continues to thrive and together the world will continue to do better.

Here is the list.

Greatest Moments of 2016 from Col. Chris Hadfield

Juan Manuel Santos Farc Peace DealJuan Manuel Santos – Farc Peace Deal

1. The Colombian government and FARC rebels committed to a lasting peace, ending a war that killed or displaced over 7 million people.

2. Sri Lanka spent five years working to exile the world’s deadliest disease from their borders. As of 2016, they are malaria free.

3. The Giant Panda, arguably the world’s second cutest panda, has officially been removed from the endangered species list.…/giant-pandas-are-no-longer-endange…

4. Tim Peake became the first ESA astronaut from the UK, symbolizing a renewed British commitment to space exploration.…/tim-peake-nursing-worlds-wors…


5. Tiger numbers around the world are on the rise for the first time in 100 years, with plans to double by 2022.…/160410-tiger-numbers-…/

6. Juno, a piece of future history, successfully flew over 800 million miles and is now sending back unprecedented data from Jupiter.…/juno-probe-nasa-celebrates-as…/

7. The number of veterans in the US who are homeless has halved in the past half-decade, with a nearly 20% drop in 2016.…/

8. Malawi lowered its HIV rate by 67%, and in the past decade has seen a shift in public health that has saved over 250,000 lives.…/malawi-reduced-hivaids-infection…

9. Air travel continues to get safer, and 2016 saw the second fewest per capita deaths in aviation of any year on record.…/

10. India’s dogged commitment to reforestation saw a single day event planting more than 50 million trees, a world record.…/india-bet-6-billion-carbon-storag…/…

11. Measles has been eradicated from the Americas. A 22 year vaccination campaign has led to the elimination of the horrific virus.…/09/measel-free-americas/501887/

12. After a century, Einstein’s theory of gravitational waves has been proven correct, in a ‘moon shot’ scientific achievement.…/nsf-s-ligo-has-detected-gravitation…/

13. China has announced a firm date for the end of the ivory trade, as public opinion is becoming more staunchly environmentalist.…/

solar plane
Solar Powered Airplane

14. A solar powered airplane flew across the Pacific Ocean for the first time, highlighting a new era of energy possibilities.…/trav…/solar-impulse-2-plane-california/

15. Costa Rica’s entire electrical grid ran on renewable energy for over half the year, and their capacity continues to grow.…/

16. Israeli and US researchers believe they are on the brink of being able to cure radiation sickness, after successful tests this year.…/us-israel-radiation-treatment-idUS…

17. The ozone layer has shown that through tackling a problem head on, the world can stem environmental disasters, together.…/…/health/antarctic-ozone-layer-healing/

18. A new treatment for melanoma has seen a potential 40% survival rate, taking a huge step forward towards long-term cancer survivability.

19. An Ebola vaccine was developed by Canadian researchers with 100% efficacy. Humans eradicated horror, together.…

BC Rainforest
BC Rainforest

20. British Columbia protected 85% of the world’s largest temperate rainforest, in a landmark environmental agreement.…/us-canada-environment-rainforest-i…

21. 2016 saw the designation of more than 40 new marine sanctuaries in 20 countries, covering an area larger than the United States.…/us-environment-oceans-pledges-idUS…

22. These marine reserves include Malaysia’s 13 year struggle to complete a million hectare park, completed this year.…/malaysia-just-established-a-o…

23. This also includes the largest marine reserve in history, created in Antarctica via an unprecedented agreement by 24 nations.…/ross-sea-marine-prote…/

Atmospheric Acid Pollution Decline
The ice is drilled in Greenland and Antarctica and is transported back home to the laboratory where it is prepared and made ready the measurements. (Credit: Paul Vallelonga, NBI)

24. Atmospheric acid pollution, once a gloomy reality, has been tackled to the point of being almost back to pre-industrial levels.

25. Major diseases are in decline. The US saw a 50% mortality drop in colon cancer; lower heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia.…/a-medical-mystery-of-the-best-kind…

26. Uruguay successfully fought tobacco companies to create a precedent for small countries looking to introduce health-focused legislation.…/Uruguay-The-little-country-that-…

27. World hunger has reached its lowest point in 25 years, and with poverty levels dropping worldwide, seems likely to continue.…/is-the-era-of-great-famines-over.h…

28. The AU made strides to become more unified, launching an all-Africa passport meant to allow for visa-free travel for all citizens.…/the-opposite-of-brexit-af…/

29. Fossil fuel emissions flatlined in 2016, with the Paris agreement becoming the fastest UN treaty to become international law.…/rise-in-global-carbon…/

30. China announced a ban on new coal mines, with renewed targets to increase electrical capacity through renewables by 2020.…/chinas-1-2-3-punch-tackle-wasted-renew…

31. One third of Dutch prison cells are empty as the crime rate shrank by more than 25% in the last eight years, continuing to drop.…/falling-crime-rates-and-prison-c…/

32. In August went to the high Arctic with some incredible artists. They helped open my eyes to the promise of the next generation.

33. Science, economics, and environmentalists saw a reversal in the overfishing trends of the United States this year.…/how-dwindling-fish-…/

34. Boyan Slat successfully tested his Ocean Cleanup prototype, and aims to clean up to 40% of ocean-borne plastics starting this year.

35. Israel now produces 55% of its freshwater, turning what is one of the driest countries on earth into an agricultural heartland.

36. The Italian government made it harder to waste food, creating laws that provided impetus to collect, share and donate excess meals.…/italy-food-waste-laws-news-m…

37. People pouring ice on their head provided the ALS foundation with enough funding to isolate a genetic cause of the disease.…/significant-gene-discovery-072516.htm…

38. Manatees, arguably the most enjoyable animal to meet while swimming, are no longer endangered.…/manatees-threatened/

A grizzly bear travels along the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park. PHOTOGRAPH BY RONAN DONOVAN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
A grizzly bear travels along the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park.

39. Grizzlies, arguably the least enjoyable animal to meet while swimming, no longer require federal protection in national parks.…/160304-grizzlies-bear…/

40. Global aid increased 7%, with money being spent to help the world’s 65 million displaced people and refugees doubling.…/development-aid-rises-again-in-2015-s…

41. 2016 was the most charitable year in American history. China’s donations have increased more than ten times since a decade ago.

42. The Gates Foundation announced another 5 billion dollars towards eradicating poverty and disease in Africa.…/bill-gates-to-invest-5-billion…/

43. Individual Canadians were so welcoming that the country set a world standard for how to privately sponsor and resettle refugees.…/americ…/canada-syrian-refugees.html

44. Teenage birth rates in the United States have never been lower, while at the same time graduation rates have never been higher.…/teen-birthrate-reaches-all-time-low-c…/

45. SpaceX made history by landing a rocket upright after returning from space, potentially opening a new era of space exploration.…/spacex-just-landed-rocket-ground-f…/

46. Finally – The Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years, giving hope to Maple Leafs fans everywhere.…/chicago-cubs-bury-curse-first-worl…



Follow Col. Chris Hadfield on his website for up to date info on what he is up to.



About Joel Levy 2552 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography